How to calm a storm (where is your God?)
September 7th–8th, 2020
This year, the already sixteenth retreat was marked by an ongoing global pandemic. It was not about statistics of infected or about correct masks wearing, but about crisis caused by the pandemic. The topic was the crisis and people’s reaction to it or how it affects the person, who finds himself in it. We started the retreat traditionally with an outdoor activity. We were supposed to co-operate of bigger teams on solving an extraordinary situation.
Individual contributions of lectors belong to the building blocks of annual program. They leave space to spiritual teaching, practical training, encouragement, admonition or other blowing of the Spirit. We divided the contributions into three thematic units. As an inspiration to illustrative manifestation of the crisis situation and its solving, we borrowed the biblical story of CALMING THE STORM.
The imaginary first third was occupied by a subtopic of fear, which comes immediately at the beginning of each crisis. Lips of lectors dropped very serious questions as: “Does fear belong into the life of Christian?“ or “What role in our lives emotions play?“ Also the usual complaint to God in a sense: “Why it happened to me? Why me?“ It was not a cheap sage but the personal experience of individuals supported by living through internal unrest and confusion, evidenced by the testimony of one of the lectors. He told about his thoughts during one of his life crisis: “After years had to admit that I had to forgive God that he caused me this…“ One of the lectors closed the topic very characteristically with a riddle: “Do you now what is fear which prays? Courage!“
The second third of the contributions dealt with the subtopic „Crisis as a chance to a change“ or what would my life miss not for the crisis. Words fell here a lot again under the evidence of deep life experiences that we could learn to live much more in the presence thanks to the crisis. And also a question appeared whether we like ourselves. That life in full is life in both good and bad. Again we heard deep stories of heart change through hardships and trials.
The third and last subtopic included a message that if we managed to pass the crisis with God we ourselves can become the bearers of peace through the pain experienced and understanding of its meaning. There was a call for gratitude. And also, that in crisis all our certainties fall but one remains: Jesus, God, on whom we stand. Let’s build “a house on a rock“, which no life catastrophes can destroy!
Beside contributions, there is always a valuable time for common prayers and evening sharing there. This time also a ceremonial end with a worship service and the Lord’s Supper was held.
The 2020 Healthy Youth Conference was moderated by an experienced “senior“ among lectors, Martin Stavjanik, who is an author of above mentioned notes, too. The organizers of the Conference very nicely surprised Martin at the very beginning: Martin has just begun the twentieth year of his service. He entered it, based on God’s call, as a cook then… Martin thus returned his “regular” name tag and obtained a special one, marked with a label as a “veteran“. Right before that he was knighted with a big sword by Jaroslav Pleva, the chairman of the board of International Needs CZ.
This year conference was special also for being held in the year of 25th anniversary of foundation the International Needs CZ. The IN CZ celebrated it together with those who transform its support into the beautiful service at schools. A big cake was served and no one else than cook-senior / lecturer-veteran Martin Stavjanik cut it for us. The participants listened to several memories of founding the IN CZ and of Otakar Vozeh, who was at the beginning of the foundation, sent them video greeting. Here, you can listen to it: https://youtu.be/LNFX2hvcjLE.
2020 Healthy Youth Conference took place at time of worsening pandemic. Two of 38 registered participants could not come due to suspected infection (fortunately unconfirmed). The Conference Center Immanuel, where we met, faced extraordinary conditions, too. Nevertheless, it provided us with excellent service. We spent two beautiful days in an atmosphere of sharing, encouragement, reciprocity, openness, and looking to the Lord as a source of support.